$2 bln needed for Nepal reconstruction

Nepal government to set up $2 billion fund to rebuild thousands of buildings either damaged or destroyed in earthquake

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The death toll from Nepal's devastating earthquake rose past 6,100 on Friday, as fresh aftershocks and the stench of rotting bodies made it hard for survivors to return to their homes.

Disposal of the hundreds of bodies still being found six days after the 7.9 magnitude quake is becoming a problem for officials, who have ordered immediate cremations.

Many Nepalis have been sleeping in the open since the quake. According to the United Nations, 600,000 houses have been destroyed or damaged.

Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat said Nepal would need at least $2 billion to rebuild homes, hospitals, government offices and historic buildings and appealed for help from international donors.

The government, in a statement, said the reconstruction fund will cover rebuilding damaged structures.

It said 13,502 government buildings were partially damaged while 10,141 government buildings were destroyed. The Government also decided to provide $1,000 in immediate assistance to the families of those killed, as well as $400 for cremation or burial.

The United Nations has said 8 million people were affected by the quake, with at least 2 million in need of tents, water, food and medicine over the next three months.

Officials believe the chances of finding any more survivors arere fading, even though a boy and a woman were on Thursday pulled from the rubble where they had lain trapped for five days.

As rescuers slowly started reaching outlying areas, witnesses reported seeing 70 to 80 percent of buildings severely damaged in Chautara, northeast of Kathmandu.

Anger over the pace of the rescue has flared in some areas, with Nepalis accusing the government of being too slow in distributing international aid.

It has yet to reach many in need, particularly in areas hard to reach given the quake damage, poor weather and aftershocks.

Tensions between foreigners and Nepalis desperate to be evacuated have also surfaced.

In Ashrang village in Gorkha, one of the worst-hit districts about four hours by road west of Kathmandu, hundreds of villagers were living outdoors with little food and water even as boxes of biscuits, juice and sacks of rice and wheat were stored in a nearby government office.

Nepal is also appealing to foreign governments for more helicopters help the existing 20 at work in rescue operations. China was expected to send more, home ministry official Dhakal said.

The international community has pledged millions of dollars of aid to Nepal, including Turkey.

The Prime Ministry's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority, known as AFAD, sent 16 tons of supplies including tents for the displaced, food, water and supplies for children. A 96-member search and rescue team along with 1,000 tents and 320 food packages also sent to Nepal.

Several other Turkish agencies, including the Humanitarian Aid Foundation, Turkish Red Crescent, Search and Rescue Foundation and Confederation of Public Servants Trade Unions, sent have sent emergency and medical supplies, doctors and search and rescue experts.

Aid officials say that in the months ahead Nepal faces challenges on numerous fronts in addition to the relief effort, including the reconstruction of collapsed latrines and the removal of the bodies of dead animals.

The UN has also warned of the challenges facing Nepal's farming community, which comprises up to two-thirds of the country's 28 million people.

It says that the quake destroyed seed stocks for the mid-May rice sowing season, as well as grains kept dry in stone storage huts that have now been razed to the ground.

If farmers miss this month's planting season, they will be unable to harvest rice - Nepal's staple food - until late 2016, UN says.

Saturday's quake destroyed buildings, ripped up roads and set off avalanches in the Himalayas, including one which tore through the Mount Everest base camp, killing at least 18 people.

An additional 72 people were also killed in India, according to Indian government. Chinese state media reported 25 deaths in Tibet.


TRTWorld and agencies